Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

My 9 year old Gemma.
 Thanks Gem, I don't think I would have come across this book !
My daughter, who is 9, brought this book home from the school library and was about to take it to bed to read. I looked at the front cover and asked her if she knew what the book was about. She answered that she didn’t, and I read the blurb on the back. When I read it I knew that she would have no comprehension of what she was reading as Nazi Germany and the Holocaust were not something that we had discussed in our family with our children. I immediately asked if I could read it first, she was happy with this and went off to read Billie B Brown.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas tells the story of Bruno who moves from Berlin to “Out-With”. His father has a very powerful job and Bruno has even met the “Fury”.  When Bruno moves to “Out-With” he meets a boy who has to wear striped pyjamas, and who lives behind a big fence. Bruno is quite jealous of this boy as he has many other boys to play with, while Bruno has no friends on his side of the fence. The two boys meet daily to chat, and Bruno, as an innocent child, never questions why his friend is so dirty, and begs for food. Bruno fancies himself an explorer so when his friend’s father goes missing behind the fence, Bruno asks for a pair of pyjamas so he can sneak under the fence and help his friend find his father.  The ending is just tragic. I would definitely recommend this book as a haunting read, telling an abhorrent story through innocent children’s eyes.

Busy Chick’s Highlight – Bruno tells his friend he is quite jealous of his armband (with a star on it), which has a star on it. He complains that his Dad has a great armband too, it is red with a great black pattern on it. Why or why can’t he have an armband.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley – Author P.D. James

“Pemberley “, I hear you ask ? Yes Pemberley, estate of Mr Darcy, home now of 6 years to Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet (now Mrs Darcy). These much loved characters are revived by P.D. James and Pemberley is the centre of a murder mystery, starring the dastardly Mr Wickham. Jane Austen’s style of writing is almost recreated, with the only thing missing her astute, humourous and sometimes cruel characterisations and dialogue that always managed to highlight and exaggerate the faults of those characters she did not favour.  However many favourite characters are back and the mystery unravels intriguingly.

Busy Chick’s Highlight – If you were a Pride and Prejudice fan, but not a purist, I think you will enjoy spending time with the characters again. The final solution to the murder mystery certainly has its twists and turns.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Author Deborah Rodriguez

This novel starts with the shocking treatment of Yasmina, a young Afghan widow, who is stolen to repay her Uncle’s debt. Her rescue begins the story of five women who are linked by the coffee shop in Kabul, but are bound forever by their experiences of love in a country where women struggle daily.  The author’s story is also intriguing and inspires this work of fiction. Post 9/11 Deborah begs to be allowed to go to Afghanistan with a group of Doctors to help the people. The trouble was Deborah was a hairdresser. She later opened a Beauty School in Kabul, where women were given skills and a place of friendship. The women that Deborah met and their stories inspired this novel where friendship disregards danger.

Busy Chick’s highlight – Yasmina finally sees herself as a person of worth, both with her sewing and in finding a man who can love her.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

I Came to Say Goodbye – Author Caroline Overington

Fat has been rejected by her mother, bullied by school mates, set herself up with a deadbeat, become a mother twice with tragic consequences and suffered a monumental breakdown. Why then are her father and older sister writing a letter pleading to a judge to help them? This book speaks in the voice of Fat’s father and older sister and is absolutely riveting. A great Australian author.

Busy chick’s highlight – I didn’t realise that I was crying over the last three pages until my husband questioned me !

Sunday, 15 January 2012

So What if I’m Broken – Author Anna McPartlin

A tragic story that somehow makes you laugh. Tom’s wife goes missing, however the real story starts when he meets Jane, Leslie and Elle in an elevator. The cast of characters all have dark areas in their life yet the Author has given them a great sense of humour and as a reader you really warm to the characters. Jane looks after everyone, including Rose her alcoholic mother, Elle is an artistic genius with a very dark side and Leslie has watched her entire family die of cancer. All these stories combine to make heart-warming reading. If you are a fan of chick lit then this is a book for you.

Busy chick’s highlight – Rose, Jane’s mother has some hysterical lines.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Matilda is Missing – Author Caroline Overington

After reading this book I rushed straight to the library to borrow Caroline’s book I Came to say Goodbye. Matilda is Missing is written in the voice of a Grandfather, not Matilda’s Grandfather, but the husband of Pat Harrison. Pat hates her “baby” son’s wife, but loves her Grandsons. When her son and daughter-in-law split, Pat is delighted but not so happy about the lack of contact with her grandsons. Barry, Pat’s husband has to be the voice of reason in what becomes a very bitter situation. Coincidentally, Barry is called on by an old friend, who happens to be a Family Court Judge, to review papers and tapes regarding Matilda, another child who is the victim of a bitter divorce. This book would be a great one for book clubs if your book club is up for some controversial and passionate discussion. It comes with discussion questions in the back.

Busy Chick’s highlight – love the line from Pat when she is telling her husband what a catch their son is. “He’s got a job. He’s got his Westpac Supersaver.” Another emotional highlight is the tapes Brian listens to regarding the custody of Matilda.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Great Book App

I love the iphone and ipad app I Read it Now. It allows you to track, rate and even makes notes about the books you have read. You can upload cover images from the net or take your own cover photo. You know how you are browsing through the library, bookshop or net and think "Have I read that?" Well with this app you can check. Also helpful in recommending books to friends!

100 books in 2011

I read 100 books in 2011 (Actually I read more but I stopped counting at 100)

Books with ** are MUST READS. However I would recommend you give all the books on the list a read.

1.       The Road – Cormac McCarthy **

2.       Just Between us – Cathy Kelly

3.       Blood Brothers – Nora Roberts

4.       Keeping Faith – Jodi Picoult **

5.       Salem Falls – Jodi Picoult

6.       The Hollow – Nora Roberts

7.       The Pagan Stone – Nora Roberts

8.       The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot (non fiction)**

9.       Cloud Street – Tim Winton**

10.   Minding Frankie – Mauve Binchy

11.   The Triumph of Katie Byrne – Barbara Taylor Bradford

12.   Ugly – Constance Briscoe (non fiction)**

13.   The Suspect – Michael Robotham

14.   The Distant Hours – Kate Morton **

15.   Assegai – Wilbur Smith

16.   Cocaine blues – Kerry Greenwood **

17.   Flying too high – Kerry Greenwood **

18.   Murder on the Ballarat train – Kerry Greenwood **

19.   Fast Track – Fern Michaels

20.   Kidnapped – Jan Burke

21.   Queen of the Night – J.A. Jance

22.   Savour  the Moment – Nora Roberts

23.   Think Twice – Lisa Scottoline **

24.   At Home with the Templetons – Monica McInerney **

25.   A sea of troubles – Donna Leon

26.   Fierce conversations – Susan Scott (non fiction)

27.   Sing me home – Jodi Picoult

28.   Waiting for the Thunder – Patricia Shaw

29.   The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsson **

30.   The Girl who played with fire – Steig Larsson **

31.   The Girl who kicked the hornets nest – Steig Larsson **

32.   The Sunbird – Wilbur Smith

33.   Raising Boys – Steve Biddulf

34.   Plain Truth – Jodi Picoult **

35.   Caught – Harlen Coben

36.   The Confession – John Grisham

37.   What Kate did Next – Lisa Heidke

38.   The Seventh Scroll – Wilbur Smith

39.   The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon**

40.   The Five people you meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom

41.   The Associate – John Grisham

42.   A Prisoner of Birth- Jeffrey Archer

43.   A Song in the Daylight – Paullina Simons

44.   A Passionate Life – Ita Buttrose

45.   Lucy Sullivan is getting Married – Marian Keyes

46.   Elizabeth – Barbara Taylor Bradford

47.   Love Honor and Betray – Kathy Lette

48.   Watermelon – Marian Keyes

49.   Other People’s Diaries – Kathy Webb

50.   An Offer you Can’t Refuse – Jill Mansell

51.   On the Street Where you Live – Mary Higgins Clark

52.   Love, Honor and O’Brien – Jennifer Rowe

53.   And never let her go – Ann Rule (non fiction) **

54.   The Devil’s Punchbowl – Greg Iles

55.   Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

56.   Persuasion – Jane Austen

57.   The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

58.   Give me Four Reasons – Lizzie Wilcock

59.   One Perfect Pirouette – Sheryl clark

60.   Look me in the eye – John elder Robison (non fiction) **

61.   Jaspar Jones – Craig Silvey **

62.   My Story – Shappelle Corby with Kathryn Bonella (non fiction)**

63.   Rhubarb – Craig Silvey

64.   Play Dead – Harlan Coben **

65.   Testimony – Anita Shreve **

66.   Second Chances – Martina Reilly

67.   Cold Heart – Lynda La Plante

68.   Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith **

69.   The Help – Kathryn Stockett **

70.   Love in the Age of Drought – Fiona Higgins (non fiction)

71.   The Choice – Nicholas Sparks

72.   Killer Smile – Lisa Scottoline

73.   Meltdown-Ben Elton

74.   Paths of Glory – Jeffrey Archer **

75.   Bad Behaviour – Liz Byrski

76.   All He Ever Wanted – Anita Shreve

77.   Killing Floor – Lee Child **

78.   Seriously… I’m Kidding – Ellen de Generes

79.   Ash Rain – Corrie Hosking

80.   The God of Small things – Arundhati Roy

81.   The Secret Speech – Tom Rob Smith **

82.   Undercurrents – Tamara McKinley

83.   Gingersnaps – Cathy Cassidy

84.   Infidel- Ayaan Hirsi Ali (non fiction) **

85.   House Rules – Jodi Picoult **

86.   The Jane Austen bookclub – Karen Joy Fowler

87.   The Last Juror – John Grisham

88.   The Vendetta Defence- Lisa Scottoline **

89.   Breakfast at Tiffany’s ( plus three short stories) – Truman Capote

90.   Rebuilding Coventry – Sue Townsend

91.   I Heard the Owl call my Name – Margaret Craven **

92.   A Kingdom for the Brave – Tamara McKinley

93.   Unpolished Gem – Alice Pung **

94.   Tripwire – Lee Child

95.   The Brutal Art – Jesse Kellerman **

96.   Five quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris **

97.   The Pilot’s Wife – Anita Shreve **

98.   Billy Two – Garry Boyd

99.   Leaving Jetty Road – Rebecca Burton

100.                        Live Wire – Harlen Coben **

Pacific - Author Judy Nunn

I know I am a bit behind the times as this is my first Judy Nunn book. Pacific is an epic novel. If a book weaves two stories into one cleverly then I usually become a fan. This book links the stories of a modern day Australian actress Samantha Lindsay, and a past war hero Jane Thackeray in a believable, spell binding manner. It is the story of Jane Thackeray, who moves to a Pacific Island with her missionary husband Martin, that becomes predominant as Samantha makes a movie inspired by her life. Jane blossoms during the war to become Mama Tack, protector of and beloved by the Islanders she lives amongst.  The characters really come to life and time spent reading the 661 pages of this book is time well spent, I was so caught up in the story that even when I had to put the book down the story remained with me and I picked up where I left off with ease.

Busy Chick’s Highlight – The final revelation about Jane Thackeray’s son.

House Rules - Author Jodi Picoult

I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan and I adore this book. What do the words “Look after your brother” really mean?  As parents we set “House Rules” and hope that our children will follow them and interpret them in the way they were attended. For people in the Autistic Spectrum rules can have a very literal meaning, and as a teacher of students with disabilities I love the perspectives that this book brings to the reader. In this novel Jacob Hunt has an obsessional interest with crime scenes, and inadvertently brings suspicion on himself when his life skills coach is found dead.  His inability to effectively communicate highlights the heartbreaking frustration of parents of children with Aspergers, but it is his brother’s story which is also very moving and worthy of attention.

Busy Chick’s highlight – always got to love the ending of a Jodi Picoult novel.  I love that she has highlighted this topic in such an accessible manner.

Save Me - Author Lisa Scottoline

When an explosion devastates her daughter’s school, Rose faces an impossible decision, save her daughter, or her daughter’s bully. Her decision triggers a response from her husband, other parents, teachers and the media that she could not have imagined. Added to the intensity of these relationships the novel also introduces a complex mystery surrounding the explosion. Rose decides that she must take matters into her own hands for the sake of her daughter and her life. While this review itself doesn’t give much away, I really would hate to spoil such a great book for any reader.

Busy chick’s highlight – The moral dilemma Rose is faced with, who does she save ??

The Pilot’s Wife - Author Anita Shreve

I have read a few Anita Shreve books and have enjoyed all of them. This one was an Oprah’s book club book and the high recommendation that this suggests is definitely well deserved. A simple storyline, Kathryn’s husband is a pilot and he is killed when his plane explodes. From there the investigation into why the accident has occurred opens Kathryn’s eyes to the truth about her husband. I wouldn’t say there is a tangled storyline that evolves, there is definitely a twist and a turn, but while sorrowful for Kathryn it is written in an understated manner for the reader. A good read, and I would read it again.

Busy chick’s highlight – Kathryn literally opens the door to the truth in London.

Five Quarters of the Orange – Author Joanne Harris

A very intricate novel  by the author of Chocolat, with the main character’s life as a child and an old woman interwoven smoothly throughout. Set in France in a small village at the time of German Occupation, Boise’s mother is portrayed in an unforgiving manner, a hard, unloving and unlovable woman. Boise, now an old woman returns to the village under her married name, as she believes if her true identity was discovered, as her mother’s daughter, she would be run out of the village. Boise herself is independent and adventurous, both as a child and an old woman, traits which set up the storyline for its tragic and surprising conclusion. This novel has inspired me to read more Joanne Harris novels it is so clever and engaging.

Busy chick’s highlight – The confession of Boise’s childhood friend Paul.

The Brutal Art – Author Jesse Kellerman

An author with good breeding, father Jonathon Kellerman and mother Faye Kellerman. This is the first Jesse Kellerman novel I have read and I will be seeking out the others Sunstroke and Trouble. The story unfolds at a steady pace, and the historical interludes provide an interesting family history for the main character Ethan Muller, who discovers a mountain of art work in an abandoned slum apartment (owned by his family). The reader is left to ponder the origins and possible criminal sickness of the artist as Ethan delves into the mystery of the cherubs- the murdered boys’ faces who feature in the first panel of the artist’s work. This book keeps you hanging until the last twenty pages and the final resolution is surprising.

Busy chick’s highlight -  Definitely the ending.

Tripwire – Author Lee Child

If you haven’t read a Jack Reacher novel give one a go. I have not read them in order but it doesn’t tend to matter, however, in many novels there are references to one woman who managed to have a profound influence on Reacher, and in Tripwire you discover who this person is. For those considering a Reacher novel you will find gratuitous violence and the strongest, toughest, most ruthless Robin Hood with a heart that I have ever read about. Sex appeal is delivered in spades and while after you read a few Reacher novels you know the formula to expect, the plots and their development are interesting. In Tripewire the bad guy deserves everything he gets, actually he deserves a bit more. Reacher is the type of man that can kill someone with his thumb, however he can also analyse the clues and ask the questions that dumbfound those he is up against.

Busy chick’s highlight – Any time Reacher breaks a man’s bones with his hands. Love the final stand- off.

Unpolished Gem - Author Alice Pung

An Australian Author and a memoir that has wonderful characterisation. The relationship between Alice’s mother and grandmother (father’s mother) would have been hilarious if there had not been a young girl caught in the middle who’s self- esteem was being affected by the selfishness and insecurity of the women. I also loved the description of their house in suburbia, so clearly pictured that the knick-knacks were easily imagined by the reader. This was a  story that left me wanting to know if Alice married a skip, and how her upbringing continued to influence her relationships at university and beyond.  The memoir included some really poignant moments including her first romantic relationship and the realisation of her mother’s mental health problems.

Busy chick’s highlight – Due to the empathy you feel for this poor little girl, I found her incidents at school when she was very young emotional reading.